TIME’s movie critic (and TV whiz in his own right) Richard Corliss sent along this e-mail about last night’s Mad Men, which I’d noted played up the fascination/leeriness of Americans for Europeans in the early ’60s:
The touchstone was LA DOLCE VITA, Fellini’s divine-decadence drama that sold Americans on the notion of Europe as a Tussauds gallery of sybarites who have nothing to do and thus will do Anything. Other European films released here in ’62 (LA NOTTE, LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD) buttressed this fantasy; Pauline Kael wrote a famous piece called “The Come-Dressed-As-The-Sick-Soul-of-Europe Parties.” LA DOLCE VITA was a huge hit in the U.S. in 1961-62 (most people saw it in a dubbed version) and still, in real dollars, the highest-grossing foreign-language film of all time.
Especially noteworthy, considering that we know Don Draper has been playing hooky to take in foreign films. Apparently he found the real thing alluring, yet creepy.